People sometimes ask me about my designing process. If I'm making something realistic, like a horse or a flamingo, I go to Google Images for pictures to help visualize shapes and proportions. Sometimes searching for drawings instead of photos helps.
If I'm doing something more abstract, then I start by drawing the image in my mind. Just two problems there -- my mental images are often a bit vague .... and I can't draw. My drawings are usually more of a rough doodle.
So here is my sketch for an angel, one little bit on a page of doodles:
Pretty sad, huh?
For the skirt, I was envisionning something similar to this quilt square I did a few years ago, but with one of the tall flowers in the middle. Once I picked up my shuttles, it took maybe ten minutes to realize those flowers were much too big. So then came lots of experimentation with smaller motifs. Lots and lots of little motifs, until they looked right and fit together.
Once I had the center bits done, then came the outline to make the angel shape. This was actually easier than the center. Before starting, I gave a bit of thought to where to begin, and what direction to go in, to make the whole outline in one pass without cuts and ties.